Amnesty: UN resolution adoption on Gaza aid important, yet insufficient

Vote on the resolution, watered down significantly from earlier versions to avoid a US veto, fails to call for an immediate halt in the fighting

The international human rights organisation Amnesty International said a United Nations Security Council resolution remained “woefully insufficient” in the face of the ongoing massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Forces in the Gaza Strip.

Amnesty International has been calling for an immediate ceasefire by all parties since 26 October to put an end to unlawful attacks and protect all civilians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “A ceasefire would prevent further civilian loss of life and alleviate the immeasurable suffering caused by the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza,” secretary-general Agnès Callamard said.

The UNSC’s adoption of a compromise resolution now calls for “urgent steps to immediately allow safe and unhindered and expanded humanitarian access” to Gaza and creating “the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities”.

“This is a much-needed resolution – all efforts to address the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza must be welcomed, but it remains woefully insufficient in the face of the ongoing carnage and extensive destruction wrought by the government of Israel’s attacks in the occupied Gaza Strip. Nothing short of an immediate ceasefire is enough to alleviate the mass civilian suffering we are witnessing,” Callamard said.

“The vote on the resolution – which was watered down significantly from earlier versions to avoid a US veto fails to call for an immediate halt in the fighting, instead including a call to ‘create conditions’ for a cessation of hostilities. Given the staggering death toll - with more than 20,000 killed in over two months, and the horrifying scale of destruction and devastation in Gaza this is simply unacceptable.

“It is disgraceful that the US was able to stall and use the threat of its veto power to force the UN Security Council to weaken a much-needed call for an immediate end to attacks by all parties.”

The resolution adopted seeks to establish a “mechanism” to expedite deliveries of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Earlier drafts of the resolution had called for an urgent “cessation of hostilities” or “suspension of hostilities”, but this was removed due to objection from the US mission.

The US had already vetoed two previous draft resolutions calling for a halt in the fighting since 7 October 2023. The US vetoed a draft resolution put forward by Brazil calling for humanitarian pauses on 18 October. Then on 8 December vetoed a draft resolution backed by almost all other Security Council members and dozens of other nations demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. 

On 12 December, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Out of 193, 153 member states voted in favour and 10, including the US and Israel, against, with 23 abstentions.